Some Florida divorces are resolved relatively quickly, with the parties agreeing on most issues. In other divorces, however, the spouses might have differences that they cannot resolve, which leads to them ending up in court, where a judge will decide for them. This is called a contested divorce.
What is a contested divorce?
A contested divorce is one where the spouses cannot resolve some or any of the divorce issues. They then go to court and ask the judge to decide for them and issue the divorce decree. Contested divorces can take time, involving several trial court dates, and they can also become more expensive than more amicable divorces, as the spouses might have to hire lawyers, financial experts and other professionals to assist during the process.
What issues can lead to contested divorces?
A contested divorce might begin from the first step when the divorce petition is filed if the other spouse does not agree with the petition and files counter-claims. Additionally, there are issues that spouses might struggle to resolve by themselves, such as:
- Division of property and debt
- Child custody and support
- Spousal support
Steps in a contested divorce
A contested divorce involves several steps before resolution. These include:
- Filing and serving the divorce petition
- Receiving the other spouse’s response, including counter-claims
- Issuing temporary orders
- Attending the Case Management Conference to establish dates, deadlines and other factors related to the divorce
- Going through the discovery process and mandatory mediation
- Beginning the court trial, if necessary
Courts encourage spouses to attempt to resolve divorce issues through mediation. Therefore, mediation in Florida is mandatory. However, if you and your spouse fail to reach an agreement on some of the issues, you can present the court with the ones you did resolve and ask the judge to decide the rest.